A.R., East Lansing, MI
Tags: small pet MI horse East Lansing
Feb 17, 2013
As a horse owner, I am bugged by all the vaccines being given to them. I agree with you that they can harm the horses' immune systems. Now we have eastern equine encephalitis, which can infect humans, and West Nile virus, which can kill horses and people. What's next? We never had these diseases when I was younger. What is going on?
A.R., East Lansing, MI Feb 18, 2013
Your question is timely because health experts and a few political leaders are waking up to the consequences of climate change/global warming, which facilitates the spread of some insect-borne diseases like the two that you mention.
Wind currents and warmer temperatures help spread viruses across continents, as can infected migratory birds. We need to acknowledge the role of humans in helping spread these so-called emerging diseases like West Nile virus and the increasingly frequent influenza epidemics.
Insect-borne diseases such as eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, the Schmallenberg virus, and a host of tick-borne diseases from Lyme disease to Rocky Mountain spotted fever might be reduced if we stopped using pesticides. This may seem counterintuitive, but biting insects quickly develop resistance to the pesticides while the bats, birds and other creatures that consume them and help control their numbers get poisoned. The white nose syndrome fungal disease currently decimating bats may be a consequence of immune system impairment by pesticides. Ditto the fate of the honeybee and other beneficial insects.
But the agrichemical industry does not want to hear any of this, and the drug and vaccine industries continue to profit from anthropogenic, man-made diseases. The solutions are seen as an economic threat to this establishment, but they should be regarded as an opportunity to serve the greater good and profit ethically.
I.C., Flint, MI
Tags: cat Flint MI
Jan 24, 2011
We have a cat with "cat-itude," and it is not endearing.
We adopted Larkspur, our 4-year-old calico, from a shelter when she was just 2 months old. We have an older calico, Sunny, who is 6. Larkspur is the dominant one, and Sunny seems to be OK with that.
Larky has never been a lap cat; it seems as if she would be just as happy without us. We're OK with that, but she recently has become totally unpredictable and aggressive. She often scratches us without provocation. We just walk by and she darts out, claws at the ready. Blood has been drawn many times in the past few months. This behavior is on the rise.
Just yesterday, she was getting head rubs and purring, seemingly enjoying being petted and stroked. Then, all of a sudden, she clawed my head and drew blood. We have two children, 11 and 8, and I'm afraid for their safety.
What's up with Larky and how can we get her to stop chewing us indiscriminately?
I.C., Flint, MI Jan 24, 2011
Your Larkspur is most probably a delinquent young feline who is dominating you and using you as substitute prey, hiding to ambush you and attack your legs as you walk by.
I would advise a two-pronged behavioral-readjustment-therapy approach. Play hide-and-seek with Larky, and have her attack and "kill" a small stuffed toy on a string. Second, put on gloves and a thick coat to protect your arms and, while petting her, grab the scruff of her neck and hold her down for 10 to 15 seconds. She may protest violently, but this is the best way to restore your dominance over her in a way she'll understand, because this is how one cat will dominate another. It is also the way a mother cat will carry a kitten, so the scruff hold acts like an instinctual trigger of passive submission in most cats, and is not a cruel or abusive treatment. Also try giving your cat some fresh catnip herb, a half-teaspoon being sufficient to make cats who like this herb quite mellow for a while. Your cat is on the young side to be developing hyperactive thyroid disease, but this common endocrine disorder can cause cats to become more irritable and aggressive. In your cat's case, the behavior seems more like rough play rather than aggression per se, and she gets carried away. The final solution could well be a third companion cat of comparable size and age, and more assertive or outgoing than Sunny, so she can have a playmate to roughhouse with, and to experience her true nature with one of her own kind. This way she will also learn self-control and not play too roughly. Cats who live alone without the company of their species sometimes become too dependent on humans for social stimulation and affection and, especially when not socialized with their own kind when young, may never learn to play properly and draw blood when they get their signals crossed. Cats are likely to possess what scientists have identified in other species as "mirror" neurons in their brains. These enable animals to quickly decipher and mimic another's behavior, especially a member of their own species. Such brain stimulation is an important dimension of social and environmental enrichment; it's a major reason why most animal species and individual animals should not live without regular contact with their own species, especially during early development.
P.M., Clinton Township, MI
Tags: cat MI Clinton Township
Sep 06, 2010
I have a 12-year-old cat who has become extremely territorial. An irresponsible neighbor lets her cat out every night, and it comes into my yard. My cat goes absolutely berserk when this happens. Once I was blocking her view of the wandering cat, and she attacked me! I took her to the vet, and they found nothing physically wrong. They wanted to put her on Prozac to calm her down, but I don't want to drug my cat. Is there some other way to correct this problem? I keep a floodlight on and a radio playing loud music, which sometimes works. If I go out in the yard about 15 minutes before the cat typically arrives, I can scare it away. But this is inconvenient when the weather is extremely cold. What do you suggest?
P.M., Clinton Township, MI Sep 06, 2010
When resident cats see free-roaming cats invade their territory, it can create a lot of stress in the household. Certain resident cats often get so aroused as to attack another cat in the home or redirect aggression toward a human family member. Other than finding where the invading feline lives and urging the owners not to let their cat out or making your yard cat-proof with a specially designed fence, the best advice is to put up a screen or curtain so your cat can't see the backyard. At the very least, keep away from your cat when the sight of the intruder arouses her. Let the cat calm down by herself. Some cats start to spray and become un-housebroken when upset by an outside cat. A course of treatment with anti-anxiety drugs like fluoxetine or clomipramine may then be called for. You may also find that spraying the pheromone Feliway around the cat helps her calm down, along with some catnip herb to nibble or to drink as a tea whenever she likes.
I.C., Flint, MI
Apr 17, 2010
We have a cat with an attitude (catitude), and it is not endearing. Larkspur is a 4-year-old calico we adopted from a shelter when she was just 2 months old. We have an older calico, Sunny, who is 6 years old. Larkspur is the dominant one, and Sunny seems to be OK with that. Larky has never really been a lap cat. She seems as if she would be just as happy without us. We''re OK with that, but she recently has become totally unpredictable and aggressive. She often scratches us without provocation. We just walk by, and she darts out, claws at the ready. Blood has been drawn many times in the past few months. This behavior is on the increase. Just yesterday, she was getting head rubs and purring, seemingly enjoying being petted and stroked; then, all of a sudden, she clawed my head and drew blood. We have two children (11 and 8) and I''m afraid for their safety. What''s up with Larky? How can we get her to stop chewing us indiscriminately?
I.C., Flint, MI Apr 18, 2010
Your Larkspur is clearly a delinquent young feline who is dominating you and using you as substitute prey, hiding to ambush you as you walk by.
I would advise a two-pronged behavioral-readjustment-therapy approach. Play hide-and-seek with Larky and have her attack and "kill" a small stuffed toy on a string. Second, put on gloves and a thick coat to protect your arms and, while petting her, grab the scruff of her neck and hold her down for 10 to 15 seconds. She may protest violently, but this is the best way to restore your dominance over her in a way she''ll understand, because this is how one cat will dominate another.
If this fails, try one of the new psychotropic, behavior-changing medications like amitriptyline or a natural product like valerian. You may have success with catnip, because many cats enjoy this herb and will readily eat servings. Catnip, a member of the mint family, is more palatable than valerian, and has similar sedative effects after causing transient stimulation.
L.B.-V., Ann Arbor, MI
Sep 12, 2009
My bull terrier died recently after a teeth cleaning. I am devastated, and I feel guilty for taking her to have it done. She was 9-1/2 years old and had a teeth cleaning a year ago, which went well. The whole thing is so odd to me.
When I went to pick her up at the vet, he said he needed to get a urine specimen before she could go home. Within the hour, she lay dying. I need answers. In hindsight, I have a feeling the vet won''t want to talk to me from the way he acted. I could not stand to see her panting heavily, tongue hanging out. She did not respond to me at all; she couldn''t even stand on her legs. I felt helpless, and my head was spinning, not knowing what to do for her. She was my daily life and my baby.
L.B.-V., Ann Arbor, MI Sep 13, 2009
y sincere condolences go out to you. This is an alert to all dog and cat owners about the risks of "routine" dental care involving a general anesthetic. Apparently, some veterinarians contend that a good dental exam cannot be done without putting a dog or cat under. Is effective restraint no longer being taught to vet students and vet techs? Readers have told me that their vets want to anesthetize and clean their pets'' teeth on an annual basis, even starting with a 1-year-old cat! This is utterly absurd. But it does not mean cats and dogs are not suffering from a veritable epidemic of dental disease that can be as life-threatening as a general anesthetic, especially to an already sick animal. Part of this is because they are being fed manufactured junk pet food. For details and preventive tips, visit my Web site, www.DrFoxVet.com/info/. PetzLife dental-care products, such as oral-care spray and gel, are superior, safe and effective items for helping keep dogs'' and cats'' teeth clean and gums healthy. For details, visit www.petzlife.com, or check your local pet store for supplies.
A.C., Fenton, MI
Tags: cat Fenton MI diet food
Apr 25, 2009
I am writing in response to one of your articles about the cat that loses its fur in small patches. My 16-year-old Siamese has similar afflictions -- usually losing the fur on her ears. She is allergic to strong scents -- burning candles, air fresheners, perfume and especially litter. I switched to Arm & Hammer unscented litter, and she very rarely (one to two times a year) has fur falling out. I also used OTC hydrocortisone ointment to relieve the red, burning and itching. This is such an easy problem to fix (just eliminate scented items). I hope this helps someone else; it isn''t just food allergies anymore.
A.C., Fenton, MI Apr 26, 2009
Letters like yours contribute to progress in veterinary medicine and pet healthcare because you have done the research to get your cat back to better health. I have found many reports on the health hazards of synthetic chemical fragrances and their volatile dispersing agents. Many contain hazardous phthalates. At the top of everyone''s shopping list should be "all products scent/perfume-free" -- from paper products to kitty litter, household cleaners, detergents, room fresheners and deodorizers. At the bottom, put "buy organic essential oils" like the citrus-based Orange TKO cleaner. Synthetic materials like plastic food containers and vinyl flooring can emit phthalates, and consumers are to be warned that this group of chemicals can make for a hazardous environment for all family members, pets included.
D.C., Swartz Creek, MI
Tags: dog Swartz Creek MI
Mar 28, 2009
I have a 3-year-old female beagle that I bought to mate with my pug and raise puggles for sale. My beagle is in perfect health, and I would like to know how you feel about mating her every time she comes into heat. She is a very good dog, and I don''t want to do anything to hurt her. I bred her with my pug two times in 2008. She had pups in January and August. Would it hurt her if I bred her again when she comes in heat again? My only reason for doing this is my son getting married and a litter of pups would help with the cost of the wedding.
D.C., Swartz Creek, MI Mar 29, 2009
I appreciate your concern for your "brood bitch." Dogs should not be bred more often than every other heat, according to many experts -- they benefit from having time to recover physical condition. This is widely accepted, but not by money-driven breeders. Only too often, dogs are bred even before they are fully mature, especially by commercial puppy-mill operators, who breed them every heat cycle until they are spent. I would never justify breeding more pups, whatever the breed or mix, to get more money to buy my children a nice wedding. Go to any animal shelter, and see how many pups there are already in the world. Why bring more life into this overcrowded world?
J.M., Lincoln Park, MI
Tags: dog Lincoln Park MI diet food
Jan 20, 2007
Three months ago, I adopted a dog from my local animal shelter. They said he was a mix of German shepherd, collie and possibly Great Dane, approximately 7 years old. I fell head over heels in love with this gentle giant but soon found out he had ear infections, and I started a course of treatment with a veterinarian.Last Saturday night, right after he ate dinner, he started acting like he was going to throw up and seemed very uncomfortable. Nothing came up, but he couldn''t seem to lie still for very long. After watching this for a short time, I took him to an emergency veterinarian, who told me he was suffering from bloat and needed surgery right away. They said the surgery and hospital stay would cost between $2,500 and $3,500. Since I am a widow raising three teenagers, the price was very high to me and, with all he''d gone through, I decided to put the best thing that has happened to us in the last year to sleep.Now I grieve more for this dog than I do for my husband. Do you think I made the right choice?
J.M., Lincoln Park, MI Jan 21, 2007
I share your grief, knowing how agonizing such a financial and emotional decision must have been for you. The symptoms you describe should be read by all, since often the seriousness of this condition is not always recognized, being dismissed as acute indigestion that will soon pass.Deep-chested, big dogs are especially prone to bloat. Preventive measures include feeding three to four small meals a day and not allowing strenuous physical activity or drinking a lot of water soon before or after eating. Also avoid exposing bloat-prone dogs to emotional distress, such as having an in-house dog caregiver when you must travel rather than putting the dog in a kennel, where separation anxiety could trigger bloat, as well as any change in diet and feeding regimen.The one consolation is that, despite the expense, your dog would most likely have gone into shock and never recovered from emergency surgery.
S.B., Flint, MI
Tags: small pet Flint MI
Nov 11, 2006
I am writing about my nephew''s dog (a little over 1 year old), which chews on the wooden legs of the kitchen chairs. My nephew''s son says pretty soon they won''t have chairs to sit on. The dog eats his regular food just fine and gets no table scraps. Could this dog have some kind of deficiency, like lack of vitamins, minerals, etc.?.
S.B., Flint, MI Nov 12, 2006
If not immediately corrected by a firm "no" while pushing the dog toward the chewed spot and then telling the dog to "go away" (a terrible punishment for a pack animal), some pups will grow up to be furniture-trashers.Teething pups need safe toys to chew on, and older, bored young dogs need chew toys to keep them busy. The more outdoor activity and stimulation, the less need they will have to engage in destructive substitute activities like chewing through a chair leg and destroying furniture when left alone.
F.J.F., Fenton, MI
Tags: dog Fenton MI
Sep 23, 2006
I know you get a lot of letters about vaccination shots for dogs, but many of us don''t know how often each shot is required. Our dog died last week, and I firmly believe that being overvaccinated had a lot to do with it.Could you print a list of the shots that are required and how often dogs need them? We just got a new dog from the Humane Society, and I don''t want to overvaccinate it.
F.J.F., Fenton, MI Sep 24, 2006
There are several core vaccinations that dogs should be given: canine parvovirus, canine distemper, canine adenovirus-2 and rabies.Adult dogs with a record of shots during puppyhood up to a year old do not need to be revaccinated for three years with any of the above vaccines unless a 1-year-duration rabies shot was given. Revaccination may not be needed if a blood-titer test is done to determine whether each vaccine is still providing protection.If your veterinarian insists that all these core vaccinations be given annually, have him or her read the American Animal Hospital Association''s 2006 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, or find another animal doctor.